You walk onto the floor and look at your assignment. A feeling of overwhelm washes over you.
How can they possibly give you patients to take care of? Don’t they know that you are just some person off the street who took some classes and some tests?
This is the classic example of imposter syndrome. It is the feeling that you don’t belong, that you are not who you say you are.
As a nurse, you feel insecure and worried that someone will find out that you aren’t as skilled as they think you are. Relax. You are. Here are three ways to overcome this bogus feeling.
Fake it ‘til you make it
Everyone feels this way at some point in their career, especially when they are new nurses. This is because you don’t have the experience to know that you can do your job.
The solution is to fake confidence until you actually feel confidence. This is NOT to say that you pretend you know everything. That’s dangerous.
It means that you go into your job with the thought that you can perform up to the abilities asked of you. Please, please ask questions for the safety of your patient, but confidence will come in time.
In the meantime, let yourself operate without feeling particularly confident. It will be okay.
Realize you aren’t the only one
Everyone from the most experienced nurse on the floor to, well, the rank newbie has experienced imposter syndrome. They may not have known it by that name, but they experienced it.
Everyone feels less than confident from time to time, and it is easy to feel like you can’t measure up. This is especially true in nursing where it is so important to measure up.
If everyone has felt this way, then it is okay for you to feel like you don’t belong. Realize that you do, go about your day, and you will eventually become just like every other seasoned nurse that felt like they didn’t belong either.
It will get better with experience
Experience is the only cure for imposter syndrome. When you know what you are doing, then you don’t feel like you don’t belong.
Unfortunately, experience only comes with seeing many, many patients, so you are going to have to bear the weight of imposter syndrome for a while as a new nurse. It isn’t only new nurses that experience this phenomenon, though.
When you move to a different unit, a different facility, or even a different shift, you may feel like you don’t know what you are doing. In other words, imposter syndrome is very common, and the only cure is experience.
If you feel like you don’t belong and like you are kidding yourself that you can be a good nurse, take heart. Many have been down this road before you and have succeeded.
Chances are you will do just fine.